1. Did the Twins get value in the Eduardo Nunez trade?
Kras: Seeing how the Twins weren’t/aren’t going anywhere this year it only make sense to move some players to try and build assets for the future. Nunez was arguably the Twins best player this year and was the teams “all-star”. However, I am happy to see them add depth directly to the pitching staff. In the trade the Twins receive LHP Adalberto Mejia who most analyst predict as a back of the rotation starter. With the constant need for pitching with this club who knows where he will end up and how much of a factor he will be. He may get some run with the big club towards the end of the season (late Aug- Sept.) but he won’t be much of factor until next season, which is an all-too-familiar saying around here. Hopefully there will be some more moves like this going forward to help strengthen the team moving forward.
Nate Leer: Realistically the Twins trade of Nunez helps in 2 ways: they got a possible rotation piece and they weakened the team for the rest of the year which helps their draft slot. I like Nunez a lot as a player but this was a good move for the health of the franchis since Nunez was most likely gone after the season. After the trades of Ricky Nolasco and Fernando Abad, the Twins will hopefully continue to look for assets in exchange for low-end vets that are able to clear waivers.
2. What do you think about the Wild re-signing Matt Dumba?
Kras: I think it was a nice signing for the Wild to bring Dumba back. They bring back a defenseman with familiarity to his teammates and it is a pretty team-friendly contract. Dumba signed a 2 year $5.1 million deal that will help give the team some depth on the blue line. Dumba is only 22 years old and was the Wilds 1st round draft pick in 2012. I don’t think he has produced point-wise as much as they would like him to but, again, he is only 22 and I think with some time and the strength of his power shot that will change. If nothing else it’s worth re-signing him and possibly trading him later in the season to a team that may be looking to add a piece for a playoff push.
Nate Leer: I am not a great hockey mind but I think MN hockey fans are too hard on Dumba. He is talented and young so patience is key!
3. With training camp under way, what are two areas the Vikings need to improve on before the start of the season?
Kras: The two areas I feel the Vikings need to improve on go hand-in-hand with one another. First, Teddy Bridgewater needs to be better. With WR’s, TE’s and RB’s all healthy and deep, he needs utilize these groups and help get the offense kick-started early and often in games. I heard a comment recently that said, “The Vikings aren’t looking to Teddy to win games at this point, they are simply asking him not to lose games for them”. I think that is a very accurate description of where he is at this year. The second area they need to improve, and this will help Teddy as well, is the offensive line. The Vikings looked to have plenty of depth leading up to camp and things seemed to be trending the other way in the first few days. With the retirement of Phil Loadholt and the health concerns with Mike Harris, it is becoming a slippery, downhill slope for the line. They are still unsure how John Sullivan will rebound from the back operation last year and does anyone really have much trust in Matt Kalil? Kalil did rebound some last year but I am not sold on him being the answer at the LT position. Hopefully he continues to trend up or the Vikings may have to look for a new LT and QB next year in the draft.
Nate Leer: Kras is certainly not wrong about the QB and O-line needing to step up. However, the receivers also badly need to improve to help Teddy get better. By establishing legit downfield threats, the Vikes would help take pressure off of the line and AP by keeping defenses honest. Realistically, if the offense isn’t at least a top-half of the league unit, the team needs to take a long look at whether Teddy and/or Norv Turner are the right men for the job.
1. Does the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman make the Cubs the N.L. team to beat going forward?
Kras: It’s hard to argue against them being right in the mix with a few other teams. Any time you can add a flame thrower to the back end of the bullpen it can only help. Chapman will push Hector Rondon into the setup role and that should make for a nice 1-2 punch coming down the stretch. If the starting pitching can hold up and how we all know they can tear the cover off the ball, the Cubs should be in good shape heading into the playoffs and even making a push to the World Series. I would be more concerned about the Cubs being able to keep Chapman after this year. If he decides to sign elsewhere to play next season it will sting a bit considering what they gave up to get him.
Nate Leer: Chapman helps a lot but I still favor the Giants as a team that has been there before. The big question to me is whether the Cubs give Chapman a ton of money to stay in ChiTown. They should have the inside track and the resources to keep him in town and that would make the trade look a lot better.
2. What does Josh Gordon being reinstated do for the Cleveland Browns?
Kras: It means that Cleveland will have an awesome weapon on the field to throw the ball to but I don’t know if they have someone who is capable enough to get him the ball. RGIII, Josh McCown, and, because it’s a competition, Cody Kessler figure to get a look under center but barring injury I would think RGIII will have the best opportunity to prove he is the guy. Gordon will be an instant upgrade when he comes back and will give the Browns a true #1 WR. Figuring that Gordon will be back week 5 he should open things up for Gary Barnidge, Corey Coleman, Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell. It will be interesting following the Josh Gordon drama and seeing how it plays out. Can he stay clean and stay out of trouble with the league? Can he be the player he was a couple years ago when he was an absolute stud? I will also be interested to see how the Browns handle the troubled young WR, if they are sick of the headaches with the off the field issues I would imagine there could be some sort of trade market for him.
Nate Leer: The Browns still have issues, O-line in particular as it pertains to this conversation, but Gordon should make everyone around him even better. He helps RGIII, Gary Barnidge, the RBs and the young WRs around him. Technically these are all just theoretical improvements based on whether Gordon can play at a level similar to his last appearance on an NFL field. However, a WR with his skillset may have more impact on a unit than a player at any position other than QB. Plus, I think RGIII has some run left and Gordon helps him tremendously!
3. What does Andrew Miller going to the Cleveland Indians mean going forward?
Kras: Two things: it means the Indians are serious about the post season and the Yankees are in future-building mode. I think the Indians already have a good starting five and now they have a guy you could argue is the best closer in baseball. Miller has a 1.39 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, and 77 strikeouts so far this year and he should have ample opportunity to improve on those numbers now that he is on a team that should see leads late in games. The Yankees, although giving up some strong arms out of the bullpen, are loading up on prospects. By dealing Miller they acquire 4 more prospects plus 3 in the Carlos Beltran trade and may add even more by dealing other players after the non-waiver deadline (Nova, McCann). It’s a good move for the Yankees who are in need of an overhaul.
Nate Leer: The Yanks have completely replenished their farm system with the trades they made over the last week. This likely means they do not compete this year but sets them up very well for the future. Literally, we may be witnessing the start of the next Yankee dynasty. Prospects are a fickle thing but getting a bunch of them and letting the best ones develop is the ideal way to give a franchise an infusion of talent.